Illinois became the first state in the United State of America where Asian American history would be taught in schools in the coming 2022-23 session.
After Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law HB 376 which is the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, Illinois became the 1st state that requires the teaching of Asian American History in public schools.
The students of elementary & high school will learn at least one such unit which will cover Asian American History, it will include Japanese Internment Camps at the time of the 2nd World War permitted by Franklin Roosevelt (the former President), reparations issued in 1988 under the Ronald Reagan (the President), legal challenges to executive order establishing camps as well as the contribution of the Asian Americans to the society, at the beginning of the school year 2022-2023.
The local boards will have the flexibility for tailoring instructional materials and determining what qualifies instruction’s unit for meeting the requirements of the law, while guidance and instructional materials might be provided by the superintendent of the state for use in instruction’s unit development under the law.
It was said by Pritzker in a statement that the school environments will become more exclusive and will help reckoning with history as a nation.
A Democrat, State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, said that empathy comes from understanding. The cause of discrimination is lack of knowledge and ignorance, education is the best weapon.
The signed legislation is a part of cultural competency’s broader push in the classroom. Both the chambers of the legislature of Illinois passed the legislation with bipartisan support and it is also intended more specifically in addressing racism against Asian Americans.
It was found during the months of Covid-19 when the schools were closed by a national survey by the Promise Alliance of America consisting of 3300 high schoolers aged between 13 years to 19 years and, the Asian students as compared to their peers who belong to other races were more likely to feel disconnected from the environment of their schools. Also, they were more likely to give a response that during the pandemic, when the emotional health & cognitive health has worsened.
As said by the CEO of Promise Alliance of America & the Interim President, Dennis Vega, collective trauma is being faced by the young people as suggested by these findings. Some Asian Americans are still reeling over a year later from spikes in the anti-Asian racism in wake of the pandemic. Students are also included among these people.
Data collected before the pandemic also showed that the Pacific Islanders were more likely to be found disciplined in the school than that their white peers when seen separately from the broader Asian American groups.
In history & social studies, trends showing different treatment of Hispanics, some Asian students, & Black have added only to push for the instructional materials which are culturally competent. However, efforts for banning or limiting the systemic racism’s teaching are being made by the Republican as only a part of the materials, which have spread in various states which includes Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Idaho & New Hampshire.
In states like Illinois on the other hand, legislations have been passed proactively requiring instruction around inclusion & diversity, or on the racism’s history in the US, in some places more specifically.
However, sometimes due to political pushback, debates around the “ethnic studies” are stalled even. The same was the case in California, where a framework was passed in March for teaching about the African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans & Latin Americans in the State.
As per the States’ Education Commission, calling for the Asian American or Asian Pacific American instruction in 2021 a similar legislation was introduced. It is pending in Minnesota, New York, Iowa, Texas, Massachusetts & New Jersey. In Connecticut, a measure was not passed.